Democracy has been hailed as the best form of government for many decades. It informs a system of governance that allows the majority to get their way, while the minority have their say. To deviate from such an arrangement, is fodder for anarchy.
In most countries, democracy is nurtured and structured through political parties. In Kenya, the Political Parties Act, 2011, requires funding of at least 0.3 per cent of the latest audited revenue collected by the national government. Parties are guaranteed State-funding based on the strength of their numbers in Parliament. While this is the law, many political parties claim they have not received a penny from the government, thereby curtailing their capacity to strengthen democracy.
The lack of adequate funding makes many political parties personal outfits wholly owned by their party leaders. This stifles democracy and professional running of parties. It is therefore disheartening to hear of an amendment to the Political Parties Act, 2011, that seeks to slash funding of parties. Should the amendment be passed into law, the government will have discretion on what to give each of the 70-odd political parties. This is an affront to democracy and political association.
In a thriving democracy, parties should remain responsible and accountable. As it is, Kenyan taxpayers are getting a raw deal from the personality-driven parties, only active a few months to elections.
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